Donnie Brasco (film)
|Directed by||Mike Newell|
|Screenplay by||Paul Attanasio|
|Based on||Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia|
by Joseph D. Pistone
|Edited by||Jon Gregory|
|Music by||Patrick Doyle|
|Box office||$124.9 million|
Donnie Brasco is a 1997 American crime drama film directed by Mike Newell, and starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, James Russo, and Anne Heche appeared in supporting roles. The film, written by Paul Attanasio, is based on the 1988 nonfiction book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia by Joseph D. Pistone and Richard Woodley.
The film is loosely based on the true story of Pistone (Depp), an
Donnie Brasco premiered in Century City on February 24, 1997, and was released on February 28, 1997, by TriStar Pictures. The film was a box office success, earning $124.9 million against its $35 million budget, and received positive reviews from critics. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
In 1978 New York City,
Pistone is asked by his FBI supervisor to incorporate Miami-based undercover FBI Agent Richie Gazzo into the Donnie Brasco operation. He convinces Lefty to meet with Richie and set up an illegal gambling racket in a long-closed tavern he owns. Lefty hopes to impress the local mob boss, Santo Trafficante Jr., by throwing a yacht party and convincing him to support his new business. Sonny finds out about Lefty's plan and intercedes by ingratiating himself to Trafficante and officially taking Donnie under his wing. Lefty believes Donnie betrayed him and cuts ties with him until Lefty's son nearly dies of an overdose and Donnie is the only one who comes to comfort him. Pistone's marriage with his wife Maggie continues to worsen due to long absences while undercover, leaving her alone to look after their three daughters. Pistone's behavior increasingly becomes more like that of the criminal he pretends to be, even hitting Maggie when she talks back to him.
On its opening day, Sonny's club is raided by corrupt Miami Police officers on Trafficante's payroll as a favor for Sonny Red. Suspecting a setup, Sonny Black and his crew return to New York and gun down Sonny Red and two other mobsters in an ambush. Sonny Black also orders Lefty to kill Nicky for lying about a drug deal and suspecting he snitched on the crew in Florida. Donnie is brought in to help clean up and dispose of the bodies. Sonny Black becomes the new boss and orders Donnie to kill Sonny Red's son, Bruno, so that Donnie can officially become a member of their family. Lefty finds Bruno's hideout and takes Donnie there. Donnie tries to offer Lefty a bag of money so he can leave the Mafia, but Lefty begins questioning his loyalty at gunpoint. The FBI intercedes before Donnie is forced to do anything, and the investigation ends.
FBI agents visit Sonny Black's hangout and reveal Donnie's true identity to the crew. Knowing the fatal consequences that await him for unknowingly letting an FBI agent infiltrate the crime family, Lefty leaves behind his valuables and tells his wife that if Donnie calls to tell him "if it was going to be anyone, I'm glad it was him", before he is called to a meeting with his crew. With his family in attendance, Pistone attends a small private ceremony for his service, being awarded a medal and a $500 check.
The end title cards state that the evidence collected by Pistone in the Donnie Brasco operation led to over 200 indictments and over 100 convictions. Pistone lives with his wife under an assumed name in an undisclosed location, with a $500,000 open contract on his head.
- Al Pacino as Lefty Ruggiero
- Johnny Depp as Joseph D. Pistone / Donnie Brasco
- Michael Madsen as Sonny Black
- Bruno Kirby as Nicky Santora
- James Russo as Paulie (John "Boobie" Cersani)
- Anne Heche as Maggie Pistone
- Željko Ivanek as Tim Curley
- Gerry Becker as Dean Blandford FBI
- Robert Miano as Sonny Red
- Bruno Indelicato
- Rocco Sisto as Richie Gazzo
- Zach Grenier as Dr. Berger
- Walt MacPherson as Sheriff
- Ronnie Farer as Annette
- Terry Serpico as Strip club owner
- Gretchen Mol as Sonny's girlfriend
- Tony Lip as Philly Lucky
- George Angelica as Big Trin
- Val Avery as Trafficante
- Madison Arnold as Jilly
- Tim Blake Nelson as FBI Technician
- Paul Giamatti as FBI Technician
When Pistone's book, Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia was published in 1988, Louis DiGiaimo, who worked as a casting director for Barry Levinson, was a childhood acquaintance of Joseph D. Pistone, and served as a consultant for the book, bought the film rights. DiGiaimo brought it to Levinson's Baltimore Pictures, as well as producers Mark Johnson and Gail Mutrux, who then turned to Paul Attanasio to write the script. Stephen Frears was initially hired as director for the film, but when Goodfellas, another mob film, was released in 1990, the planning for the film was pushed back. Frears was adamant about casting Pacino to play Lefty. After several years of development hell, Frears was eventually replaced with Mike Newell as director, and development picked up in 1996. Pacino and Depp were ultimately cast in the co-starring roles, and Pistone was hired as a consultant to help them develop their characters.
Donnie Brasco premiered in
Donnie Brasco was released on
Donnie Brasco was released theatrically in North America on February 28, 1997. The film earned $11.6 million from 1,503 theaters during its opening weekend. It went on to earn $41.9 million in North America and $83 million from other markets, for a total of $124.9 million.
Critics praised Depp's performance especially: a
According to Charles Taylor in his review for Salon.com, both Pacino and Depp are "in top form"; in remarking on Pacino's frequent collaborations with younger actors (Sean Penn, John Cusack), Taylor called Donnie Brasco "the best in this series of duets" and singled out Pacino's skills: "His final scene is all the more heartbreaking for the economy of gesture and feeling he brings it. It's an exit that does justice to both the actor and the role, and it leaves an ache in the movie." Entertainment Weekly reserved its highest praise for Pacino: "If Donnie Brasco belongs to any actor, though, it's Al Pacino." The Playlist called it one of Pacino's best performances, writing "though Scent of A Woman, Two Bits and even (relatively) Heat showcased Pacino at his most exuberantly grandiose, Brasco brings him back to a performance of stealth and nuance".
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- ^ "Donnie Brasco 15th Anniversary: 25 Things You Didn't Know About Johnny Depp's Classic Mob Movie" Archived 2014-03-16 at the Wayback Machine. The Moviefone Blog.
- ^ "Donnie Brasco: Out from the Shadows", featurette appearing on Donnie Brasco DVD
- ^ "Film: Looking for Al Pacino". The Independent. April 24, 1997.
- ^ "DVD Talk > Reviews". www.dvdtalk.com.
- ^ "Donnie Brasco (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
- ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Donnie Brasco" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
- ^ Maslin, Janet (February 28, 1997). "Al Pacino as Gangster, A Guy Who's Not Wise". The New York Times.
- ^ a b Gleiberman, Owen (March 17, 1997). "Rev. of Donnie Brasco (1997)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 21, 2009.
- ^ "Donnie Brasco". At the Movies. Retrieved June 7, 2010.[dead link]
- ^ "Donnie Brasco". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 13, 2021.
- ^ Peter Travers (February 28, 1997). "Donnie Brasco | Movie Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
- ^ Mick LaSalle (February 28, 1997). "Guns and Roses / Pacino, Depp mob thriller 'Donnie Brasco' adds love triangle to the payoff". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
- ^ a b Taylor, Charles (March 28, 1997). "Donnie Brasco: With Al Pacino and Johnny Depp in top form, "Donnie Brasco" is smarter than the average mob movie". Salon.com. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- New York Magazine. pp. 55–56. Retrieved December 21, 2009.
- ^ The Playlist. The Essentials: Al Pacino's Best Performances
- Donnie Brasco at IMDb
- Donnie Brasco at Box Office Mojo
- 1997 films
- 1990s biographical drama films
- 1997 crime drama films
- American biographical drama films
- American crime drama films
- Biographical films about gangsters
- Bonanno crime family
- 1990s English-language films
- Films about the Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Films based on non-fiction books about organized crime
- Films directed by Mike Newell
- Films scored by Patrick Doyle
- Films set in 1978
- Films set in Florida
- Films set in Miami
- Films set in New York City
- Films shot in Florida
- Films shot in Miami
- Films shot in New York City
- Films with screenplays by Paul Attanasio
- Films about the American Mafia
- Crime films based on actual events
- Films about organized crime in the United States
- Mandalay Pictures films
- TriStar Pictures films
- 1990s American films